Tom Brady leads Patriots to historic comeback win
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Super Bowl 51 in pictures
Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance: heavy on hits, light on politics
Related: Tom Brady: the quarterback who even time can't beat | Les Carpenter
And that will do it from here. I’ve got nothing to add at this point. We had the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. The first overtime game in Super Bowl history. The Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl, Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl MVP and he might have sealed up his reputation as the best player in NFL history (but that’s a debate for a different day). Roger Goodell was humbled on the biggest stage possible. IT WAS A WHOLE THING and the Guardian will have further coverage of everything that just transpired today.
But this marks the end of our live Super Bowl coverage. Thanks to everybody who followed along with us today, especially those who contributed (sorry I couldn’t use all of your tweets and emails). Ciao!
Belichick says a bunch of boring things and then comes Tom Brady. “We’re bringing this sucker home!”
Robert Kraft throwing hardcore shade at Goodell, saying that this win is the sweetest of all time after saying that “a lot has transpired in the past two years.”
Goodell is on the podium. Robert and Jonathan Kraft are up there as well. Tom Brady is in the back. Michael Strahan is bringing up the trophy. Goodell comes to the podium, to a chorus of boos.
Roger Goodell getting booed. pic.twitter.com/qJQLz0OERX
Where is Roger? Here is Roger.
The first of several awkward handshakes tonight. pic.twitter.com/2swAU9L7rH
And one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history:
The Julian Edelman catch. Insane. pic.twitter.com/lq2AradZIA
And yep, Roger Goodell to heading to hand the Super Bowl trophy to the Patriots. This is actually happening and it’s hilarious.
@SoxOnTheBrain @CursedtoFirst @Accordion617 @HunterFelt @Jared_Carrabis Stunning
I’ve got nothing. I’ve got nothing. Which is BAD because my job is to say something.
Email by Andy G
Heading: Alternate reality
A Superbowl 25 point recovery and overtime. Is this really happening or is this some wierd Inception thing inside a Brexit Britain and a Trump America?
The New England Patriots have won their 5th Super Bowl, in the most improbable manner possible.
Patriots 34-28 Falcons, FINAL
Brady throws to Bennett, it’s almost picked off by Beasley! Dangerous throw that.
Patriots 28-28 Falcons, 11:18, OT
White is pushed out at the 15. That’s a 10 yard gain. Brady throws to Bennett, it’s incomplete, but because Campbell was committing pass interference. That will put the Patriots at the Atlanta 2.
Patriots 28-28 Falcons, 12:37, OT
Brady throws to Hogan, who manages to keep hold of it and goes 18 yards. Patriots are at the Falcons 37.
Patriots 28-28 Falcons, 14:26, OT
Patriots start at their own 25 after a touchback. Brady throws to White for a 6 yard gain. Brady then throws to Amendola who goes 14 yard and makes it to the New England 45.
Patriots win the coin toss! They will have the ball to start overtime!
Patriots 28-28 Falcons, END OF REGULATION
Yeah it’s an incomplete pass, I guess it was worth a chance. Edelman receives Atlanta’s punt at their 38. Brady hands the ball to Lewis, who takes the snap, runs 13 yards, and hurts his knee.
Patriots 28-28 Falcons, :11, 4th quarter
Weems takes Gostkowski’s kickoff to the Atlanta 1. Ryan throws to Sanu for a 12 yard gain. :32 left, Ryan throws to Hooper. 2nd & 6, Ryan spikes the ball. 3rd & 6, Ryan’s throw is almost intercepted. The Falcons have to punt.
Patriots 28-28 Falcons, 1:00, 4th quarter
Brady to White, who gets it to the 8 yard line. Brady to White again, who takes it to the Atlanta 1. Brady to White one more: He gets it into the end zone! Touchdown Patriots!
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 2:00, 4th quarter
Brady throws deep to Amendola who makes the catch at the Atlanta 21 yard line! A 20 yard gain! And we’re at the two minute warning!
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 2:28, 4th quarter
@HunterFelt just kidding - Edelman just won the Tyree award for #SB51
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 2:34, 4th quarter
Patriots at their 25. Brady to Edelman. Incomplete. Brady-to-Mitchell: That’s good! That’s an 11 yard catch. Fresh set of downs. New England is at their own 36.
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 3:17, 4th quarter
It’s a killer punt though and the Patriots have to start at their own 9. Brady’s pass to White is incomplete. Ouch. His 2nd & 10 pass to Hogan is… also incomplete.
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 3:38, 4th quarter
It’s 3rd & 23 at the New England 35. Ryan throws a pass to Sanu who picks up 9 yards but NO there’s offensive holding on the play. It’s 3rd and 33 on the New England 45 and Ryan’s pass to Gabriel is incomplete and the FALCONS HAVE TO PUNT!
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 3:56, 4th quarter
Falcons in the shotgun, Ryan throws to Julio Jones who makes a SPECTACULAR catch just in bounds for a 27 yard gain! The Falcons are at the New England 22.
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 5:18, 4th quarter
Well then. Matt Ryan shrugs everything off and throws to Freeman who finds a hole and immediately gets to the 49 yard line. The Falcons aren’t blinking here.
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 5:56, 4th quarter
Okay maybe the field goal wasn’t futile and meaningless. Gostkowski’s kick goes deep and the Falcons probably should let it go into the end zone, instead Hardy receives it and gets pushed out at the Atlanta 10.
Patriots 20-28 Falcons, 6:00, 4th quarter
On the next play, Brady throws to Amendola, that’s a 8 yard gain. Brady throws to Amendola once again and this time, the catch is in the end zone. Patriots with a touchdown!
Patriots 12-28 Falcons, 7:03, 4th quarter
Brady gets sacked for a five yard loss! On 2nd and 15, Brady’s throw to White is good for only four yards, 3 & 11. Are the Patriots going to throw this opportunity away?
Patriots 12-28 Falcons, 8:31, 4th quarter
And Hightower sacks Ryan for a 11 yard loss on 3rd and 2, and fumbles, which Branch recovers! And the Patriots will take over on the Falcons 25!
Patriots 12-28 Falcons, 9:00, 4th quarter
Coleman picks up 8 yards. On 2nd & 2, Coleman gets stuffed after a one yard gain and he’s hurt on the play.
Patriots 12-28 Falcons, 9:44, 4th quarter
Gostkowsk’s kick goes to the Atlanta 17 where Justin Hardy receives the kick and takes it ten yards to their 27 where their drive will begin. A chance to bleed out the clock here.
Michael P thinks it’s not quite over:
And as much as loathe the Brady bunch, I do know, they are capable of a miracle or three…
Patriots 12-28 Falcons, 9:48, 4th quarter
Bad news for the Pats, who need all he tim in the world as Jarrett sacks Brady for a five yard loss. Brady’s next pass to White gets them to the Atlanta 10. Time keeps ticking.
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, 12:20, 4th quarter
Brady throws to Mitchell. That’s a 18 yard gain, so hey good for them. They’re at the Atlanta 41 yard line.
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, 13:21, 4th quarter
Brady finds Mitchell for 7 yards. Pats in shotgun now. On 2nd & 3, he finds White for 6 yards.
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, 14:51, 4th quarter
Bosher’s punt will put the Patriots at their own 13. Brady’s first throw of the drive goes 15 yards to Mitchell, who gets to the 28.
TREMENDOUS email from Justin K:
So how the hell is the President of the United States going to explain being such TREMENDOUS friends with this Brady Bunch of losers tomorrow? Oh that’s right, he’ll have Sean Spicer come out and read the alternative result in the morning. Or Kellyanne Conwoman will claim it was all fixed by the so-called line judge,the so-called back judge, the so-called side judge, the so-called center judge, and just, just, just… judges in general…terrible people…
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, end of the third quarter
The Falcons get called for a delay of game penalty in punt formation. That’s a 5 yard penalty and that will take us to the end of the third.
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, :52, 3rd quarter
Under pressure, Ryan throws a pass to Hooper to escape a sack, but Chung pushes the ball out to force an incompletion. 3rd and 11.
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, :59, 3rd quarter
Ryan throws to Hooper for a 9 yard completion to the New England 32. There’s offensive holding on the next play, 10 yard penalty. And Atlanta takes a 30 second timeout as we hit the quarter’s final minute.
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, 2:06, 3rd quarter
And there’s a five yard penalty on the kick, an illegal touch on Gostkowski. That’s an additional five yards, enforced at the New England 46.
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, 2:06, 3rd quarter
@HunterFelt I want the Falcons to win, but predicted 28-21 in the Guardian prediction sportblog. But do I really want a Patriots comeback?
Patriots 9-28 Falcons, 2:06, 3rd quarter
And the Patriots punch in their first touchdown. Blount gets the ball to the 5 yard line and Brady connects with White for the touchdown!
Patriots 3-28 Falcons, 3:17, 3rd quarter
Patriots at the Atlana 20 after that 15 yard scamper. They hand the ball over to Blount, who picks up 4 yards. They go to Blount again who just gets to the Atlanta 7. That’s another first down for the Patriots, but man the clock is draining down.
Patriots 3-28 Falcons, 4:49, 3rd quarter
1st and 10 on the Atlanta 37, Brady throws to Amendola, a short pass, 2 yard gain. 2nd and 8, Brady can’t quite connect with Edelman. 3rd & 8, Brady takes it himself and goes through the middle and gets to the 20 yard line
Patriots 3-28 Falcons, 6:04, 3rd quarter
Patriots in shotgun. Brady throws to White who picks up 12 yards. On 1st & 10, Lewis picks up 8 yards. Not sure why the Patriots are running the ball here.
Patriots 3-28 Falcons, 8:31, 3rd quarter
Bosher’s kick goes to the end zone. Another touchback. Brady throws to Lewis who manages to grind out a mere 2 yards.
Patriots 3-28 Falcons, 8:36, 3rd quarter
Freeman picks up 6 yards. On 2nd and 1, Freeman gets stuffed for a 3 yard loss. On 3rd and 4, it looks like the Patriots have the stop, but Butler rightfully gets called for defensive pass interference. That’s a 3 yard penalty and first down.
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, 10:26, 3rd quarter
And the Falcons have the big lead but they’re not slowing things down at all. Coleman goes off for 5 yards. Then, Ryan throws deep to Gabriel and just like that, the Falcons are at the New England 28. A 35 yard gain from Gabriel.
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, 12:45, 3rd quarter
Ryan throws to a leaping Gabriel who makes a catch good for a 17 yard gain and a first down. Falcons at their own 32.
When you find out that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are the same thing #SB51 pic.twitter.com/3ttZRkc0FQ
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, 12:52, 3rd quarter
Brady throws to Edelman, who drops the pass. And that’s the end of that, the Patriots go backwards on the drive and have to punt the ball. A huge win for Atlanta. Weems makes a fair catch of Allen’s punt at their 15.
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, 12:57, 3rd quarter
The Falcons challenge the spot on Edelman’s return. It turns out that Edelman is out at the New England 47 instead. Brady throws to Hogan, incomplete. Brady’s pass to Amendola gets all screwed up for an 8 yard loss. Plus there’s an offensive pass interference call against New England, which they decline.
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, 13:01, 3rd quarter
And Edelman takes Bosher’s punt 34 yards to the Atlanta 45. Excellent starting position for the Pats if they want to strike first here in the second half, which they sorta have to.
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, 13:24, 3rd quarter
Freeman gets pushed back 3 yards on first down. On 2nd & 13, Ryan and Freeman connect for 7 yards. On 3rd & 9, Ryan’s throw to Gabriel is incomplete. And there’s the 3 and out the Patriots desperately needed.
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, 15:00, 3rd quarter
Falcons receive the kickoff. Weens receives Gostkowski’s kick and takes it 14 yards to the Atlanta 19.
If Tom Brady really wants to make a statement early on in the second half he should join the first drive by jumping off the roof @HunterFelt
Alright we’re getting back into sports mode here, I think. The Falcons have the ball to start off the second half and a quick touchdown could very put this game away very early. Everywhere advertisers who paid for those late fourth quarter ads are making quick prayers.
Did that count as a statement? I’m fairly certain she didn’t summon Satan. Which is a disappointment, really, as that would have been totally meme-worthy.
Best Jem episode imho
Lady Gaga briefly goes into “Just Dance” before moving into something dreary off of her new album which also doubles as symbolic of how Patriots’ fans felt before the game and how they feel at halftime.
Bob Kraft may be next off the roof. @HunterFelt
And half of New England.
@HunterFelt 7 minutes between posts? Come on man! Put the beer down. :)
I was still way more in synch than the Patriots offense.
Atlanta definitely leading on popular vote, but I assume New England still leading on electoral college? #SB51 #Superbowl @HunterFelt
Exclusive tape of New England patriots preparing for the second half https://t.co/wuRZ2Xyh7l @HunterFelt
A reminder that we’ll be liveblogging Lady Gaga’s halftime show in full over here at our other Super Bowl blog!
Email from Andy G:
Heading: Alternative reality
I predict Fox News showing the “Alternative Half-time Show” staring Kellyanne Conway and Breitbart wins by 30.
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, end of the first half
And here in MA my systems all completely freeze up at the key moment, which is a perfect metaphor for the first half of play for New England.
Patriots 3-21 Falcons, :02, 2nd quarter
Brady throws to Edelman, that’s incomplete. 2nd and 10 on the Atlanta 15. Brady throws to White who gets it to the 3 and there’s a holding call on Bennett. That erases the play and pushes the Patriots back 5 yards. On 2nd & 15, Brady throws to Bennett who loses 3 yards on the play.
Patriots 0-21 Falcons, :23, 2nd quarter
Brady throws to Edelman, it’s incomplete to Edelman who’s deep. Next throw, Brady throws to White for a 28 yard gain. Patriots at the Atlanta 29.
Patriots 0-21 Falcons, 1:43, 2nd quarter
Brady is hit and almost loses the ball but Bennett matches to make the catch and get the ball to the 43 yard line.
Email from Catherine M:
The largest comeback in Super Bowl history is 10 points, which has happened twice. So if the Pats win it’ll be the biggest comeback in 50 years.
Patriots 0-21 Falcons, 2:00, 2nd quarter
The Patriots will start from their own 35 after a touchback. Man this looks like tough going from here on out. White picks up 3 yards that takes us to the two minute warning.
Patriots 0-21 Falcons, 2:36, 2nd quarter
Brady throws to Bennett and, hey, that works out a tad better, a 13 yard gain that gets the Patriots to the 27 yard mark.
Patriots 0-14 Falcons, 5:12, 2nd quarter
Brady’s throw is incomplete BUT ATLANTA COMMITS HOLDING AGAIN. It’s on Poole again.
Patriots 0-14 Falcons, 5:16, 2nd quarter
Patriots at the Atlanta 46. Blount squeezes out a yard on first down, so much for the Falcons’ problems stopping the run. On 2nd & 9, Brady throws incomplete to Lewis. Atlanta take their first timeout.
Patriots 0-14 Falcons, 6:53, 2nd quarter
Patriots at their 42. Blount goes off… and gets nada. 2nd and 10. White gets six yards before a shoestring tackle from Alford. On 3rd and 4, Brady’s throw is incomplete.
Patriots 0-14 Falcons, 8:02, 2nd quarter
Brady’s first pass to Edelman is incomplete and his second, thrown to a double covered Amendola, is nearly picked off. On 3rd & 10, Brady throws to James Whtie… short of the first down. There’s a flag on the play however and it’s holding on the defense. That’s a five yard penalty and an automatic first down. Killer penalty for Atlanta.
Patriots 0-14 Falcons, 8:48 2nd quarter
Matt Bosher’s kick goes into the end zone for a touchback. This is something of a critical possession for New England, one would think.
Patriots 0-14 Falcons, 8:48 2nd quarter
Everything going right for Atlanta early on. A score here will put the Patriots in “catching up” mode, something they haven’t had to do much recently.
Patriots 0-7 Falcons, 10:45, 2nd quarter
After the scoreless first quarter, it takes the Falcons less than two minutes to score the game’s first touchdown.
Patriots 0-7 Falcons, 12:20, 2nd quarter
I’m going to go take a wild guess and say that this isn’t going to remain scoreless too long. And it doesn’t, Freeman takes it right into the end zone for the touch down. The rare lost fumble ends up hurting the Patriots big time.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 12:20, 2nd quarter
Ryan throws to Julio Jones who fights Malcolm Butler for the ball, he keeps ahold of it for a 19 yard gain to the Atlanta 48. Ryan targets Jones again and he catches the ball and takes it to to the New England 29. Wow the Falcons are going fast here.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 14:19, 2nd quarter
Brady throws to Edelman for a 27 yard again! To the 33 yard line! That’s a start to the 2nd quarter.
Pats owe Goddel for destroying the spy tapes too.
@garynaylor999 @HunterFelt "an intriguing first half of football"
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, end of the 1st quarter
Bosher’s punt pins the Patriots to their own 9 yard line after Edelman receives the ball and goes absolutely nowhere. Let’s see if the Patriots offense start cooking here.
Courtney Upshaw sounds like a member of the Drones Club @HunterFelt
Lot of defensive players making name for themselves this quarter.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 2:27, 1st quarter
Tevin Coleman runs 9 yards to the Atlanta 21. That’s a quite doable first down and, as it turns out, the Falcons are looking for a tad more. Ryan finds DiMarco for a 10 yard gain. That’s good for a first down on their own 31.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 5:08, 1st quarter
Well. Apparently both teams’ defenses heard all of the talk about this being a high scoring offensive battle and got a tad fired up.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 5:14, 1st quarter
…And Brady gets sacked by Courtney Upshaw for a loss of 8 yards. On the next play, Brady makes a spectacular throw…. that James White CAN’T hold on to. On the very next play, Brady is sacked again! Grady Jarrett for a one yard punt. And Ryan Allen comes in to punt!
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 7:15, 1st quarter
1st & 10 on their own 40, the Patriots go to Blount who picks up 2 yards this time around. Brady finds Malcolm Mitchell, a Patriot who apparently exists for a 7 yard gain. 3rd and a long 1, Brady finds James White for a 11 yard gain, and the Patriots are in the Atlanta 40. Everyone’s getting involved with this drive.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 9:22, 1st quarter
Edelman picks up 2 yards before getting pushed out of bounds. Next play, Brady finds Danny Amendola, a gain of 13 yards. Then Brady finds Chris Hogan for a 15 yard gain. The Pats get to their own 40.
Mark E. is not quite right. Whatever the final score, that is the one Trump predicted earlier today. Sean Spicer will confirm that tomorrow.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 10:41, 1st quarter
Freeman picks up another three yards to the Atlanta 48. Matt Ryan throws his first pass of he game to Patrick DiMarco to the 50. On 3rd and 5, Trey Flowers sacks Ryan for a 10 yard loss. For a second it looks like Rob Ninkovich has recovered the ball for a Patriots interception, but the officials correctly rule the ball down by contact. The Falcolns bring out the punt team, pinning the Patriots at their own 10 after a short Edelman punt return.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 13:37, 1st quarter
Ryan Allen’s punt goes to the Atlanta 15, but a penalty puts them back to the 8. No worries for Atlanta, Devonta Freeman burns the New England rushing defense by going 37 yards to the Atlanta 45 before being brought down by Devin McCourty.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 14:26, 1st quarter
Patriots start at their own 25. On 1st and 10, Tom Brady takes a hard hit from De’Vondre Campbell and throws incomplete to Julian Edelman. 2nd and 10, Brady throws complete to Edelman for 9 yards. On 3rd down, LeGarrett Blount gets stuffed for no gain. That’s a 3 and out for the Falcons defense, a good way to start the game.
Patriots 0-0 Falcons, 15:00, 1st quarter
So the Patriots will get the ball to start the game. Atlanta’s Matt Bosher kicks off, and it goes into the end zone for a touchback.
George H.W. and Barbara Bush, both recently hospitalized, come in for the ceremonial coin toss. The Falcons win the coin toss and they defer.
@HunterFelt @tom_lutz @guardian Are you both blaming the other for saying the Broncos upset the Seahawks last year?
I had the Seahawks by like three touchdowns. (Sighs.) Yes that was the Panthers, and that was on me.
You know, I liked Luke Bryan’s version fine, held the last note a tad too long. Simple is sometimes better, unless you’re Whitney Houston. And nobody is Whitney Houston anymore. 7/10.
Email from Mark E:
I’m going with Falcons 27 Pats 24, however, Sean Spicer will announce in tomorrow’s White House presser, that the result was Pats 24 Falcons 16. Brady and co will visit the White House later in the year
And the cast of “Hamilton” sing “America the Beautiful.” Because they are legally required to make an appearance in literally every major event in this country until somewhere in 2018.
Also, Ving Rhames in the bottom 1% of people I would expect to wear a henley, so already wrong about this Super Bowl
I have been informed that the guy responsible for “7 Years” was, in fact, Lukas Graham and not our upcoming National Anthem singer Luke Bryan and just had to delete about 250 words of pure invective. I feel so embarrassed.
I got a gut feelin’ the falcons will get their tuck fluke interception win. Pats have too much bad Karma and Goodell will get his last laugh. Falcons 31- Pats 30
Since I’m blogging here from Somerville, MA, I suppose I should use my local knowledge to answer this theoretical question: Does the fact that Matt Ryan was a Heisman Trophy caliber quarterback for Boston College at all alter people in Massachusetts’ rooting interest in this Super Bowl?
Answer: Hahahaha. No.
Portents of the New World Order Dept.All the Brexit Britain journalists have been herded together on the very back row. No idea where the Russians are, but imagine they have good seats.
Do I really have to make a prediction here? The hope here is that we have a close game, something which we mostly haven’t had this postseason, but that means that it’s not one that’s easy to predict. I’m going to reveal my biases and say that it’s going to be the Patriots by four points, with MVP Dion Lewis running in a late touchdown to account for the winning points after the Falcons take a late lead in the fourth quarter.
By the way, our president’s prediction is that the Patriots will win by at least eight points. I’m not saying it’s the end of the world if he’s right, but let’s face it, the end of the world is always in play when it comes to him.
An unscientific survey of fans in and around the stadium: I reckon 40% Pats, 25% Falcons and [does hard sum] 35% Steelers/Cowboys/Real Madrid/Lady Gaga. Biggest cheer for player during the warm up: Tom Brady. Biggest boo for player during the warm-up: Tom Brady.
@HunterFelt I wish they'd hurry up, I've got a ton of snacks that need eating and I feel guilty starting in early!
(Shamefully moves hand out of bag of Snickers minis. Wipes crumbs from keyboard.)
Paolo Bandini is monitoring the price of beer at the Super Bowl:
How much does a beer cost at the Super Bowl (2017 edition)? #SB51 @ Super Bowl LI https://t.co/ph9Cfkyum0
Super Bowl beer prices actually down by $1 on last year. Make America Great Again! #SB51 https://t.co/29ZLUAJOgY
(And yes, it really is $6 for a bottle of water...) #SB51
Never mind what I said earlier: I am now totally psyched for the Lady Gaga halftime show:
this is how you get me to watch the super bowl pic.twitter.com/4kAkldmXNI
Patriots inactives: WR Michael Floyd, CB Cyrus Jones, CB Justin Coleman, OT LaAdrian Waddle, RB D.J. Foster, QB J. Brissett, S J. Richards.
Inactives for #SB51:
DJ Tialavea pic.twitter.com/yudgGdQYuG
So, oh yeah, it’s Super Bowl time isn’t it? It feels like this is the least hyped Super Bowl in a while, something that could be explained by a combination of things: a genuine (although mostly temporary) dip in NFL ratings, a mostly mediocre slate of postseason games and plus the ongoing disruption of the social order coupled with a sense that this is very different different country than it was last time around when the Denver Broncos upset the
, Carolina Panthers.
But screw that! We have a game to play and not just A game but THE game, this country’s biggest and most AMERICAN event, where our love of bombastic, colorful warfare is symbolically replicated on the field in between long stretches of time filled by bursts of celebrations of capitalism at its naked and most desperate. In between all of this we get a really, really overblown half-time show filled with what historically is an embarrassing display of bland pop music maximalism. Today, Lady Gaga will be playing the obligatory role of a once entertaining performer who continues to enjoy pop cultural ubiquity despite the fact that they haven’t been good for several years. Last year, you may recall that this spot was filled by Peyton Manning. (There’s so much going on that we have a separate blog just for the commercials, the halftime show and the media wackiness).
Hello, and welcome to Houston (although you’re probably not reading this in Houston, so scratch that). The Patriots have just run out onto the field for warm-ups to huge cheers and a smattering of boos. On the way here, I was struck just how grey Houston is, until I stepped off the coach into sunshine and realised the media coach had tinted windows. The sky has since clouded over a little but it’s a warm, Texas winter’s day - a little muggy. Then again, we’re in a roofed stadium with aircon.
Hunter will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s Paolo Bandini’s game prediction:
Atlanta led the NFL in scoring during the regular season, with Ryan averaging a ridiculous 9.3 yards per passing attempt and generally performing at a level above anything he had produced in his (already solid) career. Meanwhile, no team gave up fewer points than the Patriots.
It’s worth noting that the Falcons have not just been running up the scores against bad teams. According to Football Outsiders’s advanced DVOA metrics, they faced the second-most efficient group of defenses of any team in the NFL this season. Atlanta put 38 points on Arizona, 29 on Kansas City, 23 on Denver and then 36 on Seattle last month in the playoffs.
Related: Super Bowl LI prediction: Patriots' stout defense to tip scales against Falcons